Writing Is Not A Contest

Symposium for Professional Food Writing

If you are looking for words from the wise on writing, I recommend you start with the brilliant William Zinsser, who wrote:

“Writing is not a contest. Every writer is starting from a different point and is bound for a different destination. Yet many writers are paralyzed by the thought that they are competing with everybody else who is trying to write and presumably doing it better. This can often happen in a writing class.

Inexperienced students are chilled to find themselves in the same class with students whose byline has appeared in the college newspaper. But writing for the college paper is no great credential; I’ve often found that the hares who write for the paper are overtaken by tortoises who move studiously toward the goal of mastering the craft.

The same fear cripples freelance writers, who see the work of other writers appearing in magazines while their own keeps returning in the mail.  Forget the competition and go at your own pace. Your only contest is with yourself.”

I adore William Zinsser’s book, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, and require that my students in my Professional Food Writing course purchase it.

If you prefer writing guidance through a course or workshop, I recommend the “granddaddy of all food writing conferences”, The Symposium for Professional Food Writers conference. It is geared for professional food writers and editors only. It is limited to 90 attendees and customarily held at The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

A team of successful writers leads discussions and workshops. The next Symposium, the 20th Symposium for Professional Writing is scheduled for September 12-16, 2010.

If money is tight, yet the passion for food writing is strong, you’ll be pleased to know that the Symposium offers scholarships. According to its Facebook page, the Symposium notes:

“We have many scholarships this year with more to be posted soon. The deadline is July 14 so start getting your two best samples ready!”

Note to Readers: Please be sure to check the Symposium for Professional Food Writers for exact deadlines.